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How KU Health System hopes to help student athletes reduce risk of getting a concussion

Posted at 7:58 AM, Aug 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-19 10:03:09-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It was an injury Taylor Krehbeil never expected to sideline her for so long. Five months after suffering a concussion in a soccer game, the De Soto High School student deals with daily headaches, is sensitive to light and noise and has trouble focusing.

“It's really difficult because there is basketball in the morning and weights and I can't go to any of that,” the teenager said. “I can't even go watch it because it's loud and the florescent lights at school mean I have to wear like a hat all the time.”

To help protect young student athletes, The University of Kansas Health System’s Sports Medicine and Performance Center launched a concussion risk reduction program this summer.

Physical therapists running the program say the number of concussions among middle and high school-aged athletes is rising. The statistics may be based on parents, coaches and doctors being more thorough diagnosing and reporting concussions now than in the past.

The new program is a first of its kind in the Kansas City area. Strategies are based on research and focus on strengthening neck and core muscles, improving agility and reaction time, and training eyes to better track balls or opponents.

“The best part of the job is seeing an athlete who comes in injured and is frustrated and upset and get them back to performing as well as, or better than they were before. That's the dream, that's the goal,” said Emily Volker, a physical therapist working on the program.

The program appeals to Krehbiel who wishes it had been an option before her concussion.

“I would have loved to have done something like that to strengthen my neck, because I think a lot of the problem of how I got the concussion was the whiplash and it like flung my brain,” she said.

The eight-week concussion risk reduction course is tailored to each athlete and the sport they play. For information about the Sports Medicine and Performance Center and the course, call 913-588-1227.